By John Amoda
IT is this impatience with strategies and statecraft that informed the political thinking of our first generation politicians roundly outclassed by the shrewd British independence: Granting politicians with whom they sat to negotiate independence contracts.
It is the same impatience that informs the popular â€œlynch-mobâ€ anger against the political class who are averse to fairness and free play in areas they control.
Obviously both the US and the Nigerian populace prefer fair, transparent and free elections. How do we know this? Because of June 12, 1993 elections. In those elections where the populace was given the choice, they chose a process of free, fair and transparent elections. Such an election was the June 12, 1993 elections. But the outcome of such a process was unacceptable to the dominant cabal of the political class in Nigeria.
The process that produced the results of June 12, 1993 annulled elections was the problem for this dominant cabal of the political class in Nigeria and is still their problem. How then is the colonial independence politics relevant to this analysis, if Nigerians can construct a process of elections that can elect two Muslims as President and Vice President? This fact show clearly that all other divisions of the Nigerian polity are not as important as religion in the choice of executives in Nigeria; and that the Nigerian electorate can vote across religious divides.
We can only appreciate the strategic importance of elections in African class politics and inter-elite factionalism when we recognise that Nigeriaâ€™s transition from colonial subjecthood to sovereignty through elections was in effect the cession of imperial power to the proponents of the independence of colonial Nigeria. Elections, therefore, became the means for establishing the rulership of the first independence governments, and thus effecting the transition from the colonial to the post colonial.
That electoral tradition of political change of systems of rule has been adopted by the international community in internal conflict resolutions, especially as a post- conflict peace-making strategy in Africa. Let us provide a case in point through the following account by Dr. Guobadia of the 1959 elections, proto-type of colonial transition elections:
â€œI was a civil servant, an education officer, in the service of Western Nigeria Regional Government at the time of the December 1959 Federal elections.
Though we had self-rule in the three regions which then made up the country, we were still a British colony governed under the parliamentary system. The elections were for the purpose of electing a Federal Government to whom the colonial government would hand over power on October 1, 1960 in an independent Nigerian nation. At stake were the seats in the Federal House of Representatives and the Senate.
The leader of the political party with the highest number of representatives was invited to form the government. (The ruling cabinet- mine own words. Three political parties, the Action Group (AG), National Council of Nigerian Citizens(NCNC) and Northern Peoples Congress(NPC) vied for control of the Federal Governmentâ€. (Abel I. Guobadia, Reflections of a Nigerian Electoral Umpire- P1).
In this introductory paragraph of the book we have the complete elements of transitional elections. Colonial Transitional Elections establish:
* The authority of the elected parties of the colonised over the government in the colony; colonial transitional elections bequeath ownership of the colonial government to the â€œsuccessor powerâ€ in the colony;
*The ownership of the elected colonial parties of the colony, they effect the cession of the colony to the transitional elected parties who become the transitional elected authorities;
*They establish the constitutional rules for control of the government, for the structure of the colony and the administration of the colony;
*They establish the legal sovereignty of the elected parties nationally and internationally;
*Party rule in the colony at the point of the transition;
*The control of the apparatus of the imperial state in the colony;
*And the proprietary management and control of the economy of the colony.
The cession of these six powers, namely:
*Ownership of the colonial government;
*Ownership of the colony for elected parties are constituted as the sovereign ruler of the colony at the moment of the transition from colony to the post-colony;
*Establishment of the constitution for rule, management and administration of the post-colony;
*Recognition of the constitutional sovereigns internationally and nationally;
*Control of the apparatus of the colonial state;
*Proprietary management and control of the economy of the colony and thus of the post-colony.
These powers were what were at stake in the December 1959 Federal elections. From the list it is discernible that the December elections were only superficially the elections of the peopleâ€™s representatives in the Colonial Parliamentary Federal Government.
The 1959 elections were the implementation of negotiated agreements between the British government and parties of subjects of the British colonial administration in Nigeria. The negotiation implementable as The Colonial Transitional Election was not between two sovereign governments but between a sovereign colonial government and â€œputative sovereignsâ€ so recognised by the British Government.